HC Deb 16 November 1995 vol 267 c4W
Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what conclusions he has come to concerning the review of licensing arrangements for mineral dredging in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement. [3]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that we have today published our conclusions on the review. After consideration of all the representations and consultation with other Government Departments, we have decided that the way forward is to introduce statutory procedures to replace the non-statutory "Government View" procedure. The decision follows our conclusions thata statutory system, which will draw on procedures in the town and country planning Acts, should be introduced, with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales as regulatory and enforcement authorities. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be consulted in the decision-making process and will have responsibility for overseeing the monitoring of the effects of the dredging activities; the costs of administering the new statutory procedures should be recovered from dredging application fees; in general, new dredging permissions should be valid for 15 years with substantive reviews at five-year intervals to determine renewal; the statutory procedures should subsume sections 18 and 34 consents under the Coast Protection Act 1949; and all areas of the sea bed below the low-water mark will be covered regardless of ownership. A summary of the responses to the consultation paper and an outline of the proposed statutory procedures have been placed in the House Library. Until we can introduce proposals for legislation to this House, we propose to introduce similar non-statutory procedures as an interim measure. A further announcement will be made about this.

We will also be preparing and consulting on policy guidance for marine dredging which will set out the environmental criteria appropriate to the marine environment.